Dear Flint Hill School Families,

It really is happening! A new school year is on the verge of getting underway. If you have been on our Upper School Campus, I thank you for your patience while we finish the construction on the new, vastly improved parking lot. There is a new parking pattern, far more spaces, and a practical, attractive approach to addressing the parking needs that we have experienced for several years. All of it is going to be incredibly beautiful, efficient, and effective. At the same time, right now, we all need to be patient as we work together to learn the new patterns and wait for the final pieces to be put in place. The parking lot is just a portion of all the activity taking place on both campuses.

All of this activity has reminded me of a crucial concept of human behavior — sensory-motor learning. It involves our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, as well as the desire to move, be in motion, or hold things. Remember, when our kids were little, they preferred to put their hands into their food instead of using a spoon or fork? Sensory-motor learning is why they loved watching things get spilled, or they would throw things out of their playpens over and over again. They loved to touch things, hold things, and feel things and then throw them again and again.

Sensory-motor learning changes in time, and as adults, we still love touching fresh paint at times or clothing materials. It is also why we love to watch the bonfire at Homecoming or enjoy being near water during the summer, watching the waves hit the beach.

When I think of sensory-motor, I also think about sounds. Certain sounds take me back to different seasons of the year or different experiences from my past. In the summer, I love the sound of children’s laughter on playgrounds or while playing at a pool or beach. I love the sound of cicadas on a hot, muggy night, or the sound of crickets off in the grass. I find those sounds to be oddly peaceful. I also love the smell of freshly cut grass and the scent in the air when rain is on the way; all of that reminds me that it is summer. Though I will admit, after having had our traditional “Camp Oma and Opa” recently with two of our grandchildren, who love Chuck E. Cheese, one of the sounds of summer for me now and forever will be the “ticket cruncher” as it gobbled up all the tickets that they earned playing games this summer.

As school gets underway, there is also an overwhelming stimulation of our senses. In just the past few days, I heard the sound of students’ laughter as they came up the sidewalk for preseason practices. The sound of whistles in the distance as coaches are getting drills underway. And soon, there will be the sound of lockers being opened and closed. The sound of teachers’ voices, students in the commons, and ultimately their cheers at various games; all of that pays homage to how vital our senses are to helping us enjoy and remember moments.

I hope all of us will take time to notice the sounds, sights, etc., on our campuses during these first few weeks. We often use the expression, “Stop and smell the roses.” I encourage all of us to do that at this busy time.

Enjoy the start of the school year! And please join me in making certain that our new families feel warmly welcomed. Together, we are going to make this 2019-2020 school year one of the very best ever.

Best wishes to you!


John M. Thomas